Somewhere between hunting for gold in Latin America as a geologist and getting married to a new husband, thirty-three-year-old Susan Purvis loses her way. Susan comes to believe that a puppy and working on ski patrol at the last great ski town in Colorado will improve her life. When she learns about avalanches that bury people without warning, she challenges herself: “What if I teach a dog to save lives?” This quest propels her to train the best possible search dog, vowing to never leave anyone behind. With no clue how to care for a houseplant, let alone a dog, she chooses a five-week-old Labrador retriever, Tasha. With the face of a baby bear and the temperament of an NFL linebacker, Tasha constantly tests Susan’s determination to transform her into a rescue dog. Susan and Tasha jockey for alpha position as they pursue certification in avalanche, water, and wilderness recovery. Susan eventually learns to truly communicate with Tasha by seeing the world through her dog’s nose. As the first female team in a male-dominated search-and-rescue community, they face resistance at every turn. They won’t get paid even a bag of kibble for their efforts, yet they launch dozens of missions to rescue the missing or recover the remains of victims of nature and crime. Training with Tasha in the field to find, recover, and rescue the lost became Susan’s passion. But it was also her circumstance—she was in many ways as lost as anyone she ever pulled out of an avalanche or found huddled in the woods. “Lostness” doesn’t only apply to losing the trail. People can get lost in a relationship, a business, or a life. Susan was convinced that only happened to other people, until Tasha and a life in the mountains taught her otherwise.
A Bend Magazine Pick of 10 Best New Books for Fall
Somewhere between hunting for gold in Latin America as a geologist and getting married to a new husband, thirty-three-year-old Susan Purvis loses her way.
Susan comes to believe that a puppy and working on ski patrol at the last great ski town in Colorado will improve her life. When she learns about avalanches that bury people without warning, she challenges herself: “What if I teach a dog to save lives?” This quest propels her to train the best possible search dog, vowing to never leave anyone behind.
With no clue how to care for a houseplant, let alone a dog, she chooses a five-week-old Labrador retriever, Tasha. With the face of a baby bear and the temperament of an NFL linebacker, Tasha constantly tests Susan’s determination to transform her into a rescue dog. Susan and Tasha jockey for alpha position as they pursue certification in avalanche, water, and wilderness recovery. Susan eventually learns to truly communicate with Tasha by seeing the world through her dog’s nose.
As the first female team in a male-dominated search-and-rescue community, they face resistance at every turn. They won’t get paid even a bag of kibble for their efforts, yet they launch dozens of missions to rescue the missing or recover the remains of victims of nature and crime.
Training with Tasha in the field to find, recover, and rescue the lost became Susan’s passion. But it was also her circumstance—she was in many ways as lost as anyone she ever pulled out of an avalanche or found huddled in the woods. “Lostness” doesn’t only apply to losing the trail. People can get lost in a relationship, a business, or a life. Susan was convinced that only happened to other people, until Tasha and a life in the mountains taught her otherwise.
"Go Find is her memoir about rescuing avalanche survivors and discovering what she was missing in her life.” —Bend Magazine (Oregon)
“Susan Purvis has written a brave and profound book about the eternally compelling topic of human survival. No one can truly understand the wilderness without going deeply within themselves, and perhaps vice versa. Purvis has done both and come back with truths that we all can learn from.” —Sebastian Junger, New York Times bestselling author
“A love story about a woman and her amazing rescue dog. A tale of exciting, life-changing adventures.” —Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author
“A story of physical, psychological, and emotional courage in the face of obstacles that would turn many away, Go Find describes the challenging journey into K9 search-and-rescue and the human heart up in the thin air. More than a series of adventure tales way-making across rugged terrain, here Purvis offers an informed and deeply personal story of lives lost, lives found, and lives transformed—including her own.” —Susannah Charleson, New York Times bestselling author of Scent of the Missing
“If it’s true that you have to get lost to be found, then this book is my new primer.” —Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not the Story You Think It Is and founder of Haven Writing Retreats
“Excellent…Not only is the book about the love between a woman and her dog, but it also offers insight into the dangerous world of mountain snow search-and-rescue…Reading Go Find is like sitting down with a good friend and listening to her story…Susan and her dog find a new life, test their limits, and go against the odds to succeed and in the end realize what—and who—are important to them.” —Outside Bozeman (Montana)
“Tears pour down my face as I devour the final pages of Go Find, just like the avalanche dog, Tasha, devours her kibble. Susan Purvis’ first book is an unstoppable tour de force of excitement, emotion, and bravery. From the first page to the last, I was immersed in her wintry world. Beyond the fabulous storytelling and incredible adventures, lies a story at the heart of each one of us: What Is a Life Worth Living. This book should be at the top of every person’s must-read list.” —Lauren Walker, bestselling author of Energy Medicine Yoga and The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription
“Having spent a month in the hottest place on earth with Sue Purvis, I quickly realized that she was not only a tough explorer but an extraordinary soul. In Go Find, Sue regales her extraordinary life and personal spiritual odyssey, with observations as profound as the natural world that she explores. A great read for explorers and armchair explorers alike.” —Richard Wiese, president of the Explorers Club and host of the Emmy Award–winning Born to Explore
“Dogs, dreams, and danger—Go Find is a thrilling story about a woman and her search dog. Their adventures range from laugh-out-loud antics to tragedies that bring a lump to the reader’s throat. A moving, inspiring tale of a beautiful partnership forged by two independent, rebellious souls—one with two legs, the other with four.” —Debbie Burke, award-winning author of Instrument of the Devil
“Go Find, a story of evolution and self-discovery as a woman and her dog struggle to enter the boys’ clubs of the ’90s but with ultimate success…the real story—her gaining independence and autonomy teaching her black lab (and learning from her lab) search and rescue skills, in spite of the resistance of a male-dominated world of ski patrols and S&R groups. A good tale of an outlier doing well and the love of her dog and the impermanence we all face.” —Jerry Roberts, retired avalanche forecaster presently working for Mountain WeatherMasters
“The average person no idea that most of the hardworking, dedicated mountain rescue crews are actually volunteers. I’ve always been astounded by the dedication, hard work, and sacrifice exhibited by the volunteer rescue teams I’ve taught and worked with on rescues during my forty-plus years in the avalanche and mountain rescue business. And those who take on the thankless, long journey to train search dogs deserve a special place in heaven. I’ve known Susan Purvis for many years and she is certainly one of them. This is her story.” —Bruce Tremper, retired director of the Utah Avalanche Center and author of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain and Avalanche Essentials
“This is so much more than a dog story. Susan Purvis takes you on an exciting and tumultuous journey of high-mountain search and rescue. A peregrination with highs and lows that also becomes a metaphor for life and relationships. Her moving, humorous, and genuine writing will enthrall you. Go read and you will discover.” —Dale Atkins, past president, American Avalanche Association
“Susan Purvis delivers a spectacular love story about the beautiful bond between a woman and her dog. Through her extreme and arduous adventures (professional as well as personal, literal as well as metaphorical), Purvis seeks to find purpose, love, and meaning. She brings readers along for the always-surprising trek with her vivid and intense prose. Prepare to be moved, enthralled, and inspired. Go Find is truly a rare and special find!” —Angie Abdou, PhD, author of The Canterbury Trail and Home Ice
“Go Find is a stunning, fascinating journey of a tenacious woman bravely making her way in the brutal, unforgiving world of high-altitude search and rescue and joins one of the few elite high-altitude volunteer dog teams in the US. As Susan Purvis and her equally strong-minded dog Tasha pursue the training and certifications necessary, Purvis finds out that the ‘lost’ includes herself and that while forging the closest possible relationship and understanding with Tasha, human connections confuse and elude Purvis. Told with abundant suspense, warmth, and humor, Go Find captures the persistence, dedication, and strength of one young woman forging ahead against all odds in the macho realm of search and rescue. Told in vivid, sharp prose, you will feel the frigid cold and icy snow of the Rockies and find yourself holding your breath with each new obstacle, each brave step forward, and every new mission. Purvis takes her readers on a page-turning journey, and with a will as unflinching as the mountains she and her pet search, the author eventually discovers herself.” —Christine Carbo, award-winning author of the Glacier mysteries
“Fascinating, moving, and well written, Susan tells a multilayered story that appeals not just to mountain folk, dog lovers, but also to anyone who has a heart and caring soul. I cried and marveled and found myself in these pages as well. Bravo Susan. I feel forever changed.” —Kristen Ulmer, former pro extreme skier, thought leader, and author of The Art of Fear
“Beyond entertaining and educating the global audience, Go Find challenges every professional service dog handler to spend more time reading and responding to partners—both K9 and human. For today’s law enforcement and rescue missions, as high-tech AI (low brain) supersedes low-tech K9 (high brain), dogs still have more to show us.” —Sandy Bryson, California commissioner, Ret., law enforcement K9 team trainer
“Dog lovers and adventurers alike will discover Go Find is nearly impossible to put down. Sue explores the human + dog connection on her lifelong journey as a top wilderness medicine educator and dedicated search-and-rescue volunteer. She sheds the light on what it means professionally, spiritually, and emotionally to dedicate one’s self to the service of others and to the unconditional love of a dog. Woof!” —Ace Kvale, adventure photographer and subject of Ace and the Desert Dog
“People at a crossroads in their life will be inspired by the story of how one woman created a life for herself—and helped so many in the process.” —Ellen E. Schultz, former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal
“Readers searching for meaning will find themselves somewhere on these pages. While the whir of helicopter blades and avalanche bombs are powerful, Susan Purvis takes us even deeper into the psychological landscape of lost and found.” —Brian Schott, founding editor, Whitefish Review
“Susan Purvis has written a beautiful book about the process of seeking and continuing to find her perfect self in an imperfect world by listening to her teacher. She writes, ‘Empathy is my teacher.’” —Dick Dorworth, author, ski racer, coach, and world record holder
“A fantastic read, a fantastic accomplishment! Loved it! Chillingly good!” —Dr. Lanie Robertson, Tony Award–nominated American playwright, actor, and educator
“Susan Purvis is nothing if not authentic. She gives the reader insight into the real cost of becoming a rescuer—blood, sweat, sleepless nights, dollars, and emotional turmoil are all in the mix. For anyone considering training a search dog, this is a must-read. Animal lovers will need a box of tissues at the ready as they read Sue’s story of falling in love and partnership with her best friend through the heart-wrenching inevitable end to that relationship.” —Luanne Freer, MD, founder/director of Everest ER, past president of Wilderness Medical Society, medical director at Yellowstone National Park
“Go Find by Susan Purvis could easily be subtitled Busting down the Men’s Club Door. In her seeming Quixotic quest to train an avalanche dog and join the professional ski patrol at Crested Butte, she blissfully ignores the long-standing barriers to women and change in the established annals of mountain history. To her credit, she tilts at windmills, wins entry and the grudging respect of the windmills. In a time when women are equaling or bettering men in outdoor pursuits, Go Find is an inspirational story that demonstrates with grit, determination, (and a friend with a belly full of kibble) anything can be accomplished.” —Keith Liggett, sports writer, poet, author, and Colorado Avalanche Rescue team leader
“What does looking for gold in a foreign country, ski patrolling, dog training, and teaching wilderness medicine training have in common? Adventure, companionship, betrayal and the unconditional love of your best friend. Relationships are complicated. No one seems to know that better than Sue as she artfully begins to weave a story of adventure, heartbreak and joy. sometimes the most important lessons we learn in life come from the most unexpected experiences. Life and death, the battle of time, determination and skill, Go Find has it all. Sue weaves together the events of her life with skill in storytelling that will leave you wanting more.” —Marion McDevitt, DO, MPH, FACEP, FAWM, prior associate director of Wilderness Medicine and board member of the Wilderness Medical Society, ski patroller, SAR team member, and search-dog handler
“Sue Purvis is brutally and painfully honest as she tells of struggles she encountered in the dog-eat-dog worlds of search and rescue and ski patrol…We’ve learned so much from our SAR dog partners: how to love unconditionally, the gift of forgiveness, loyalty, and deep devotion. If they spoke our language, they’d tell us that ‘You humans so need to learn the lesson of finding joy in this life.’” —Patti Burnett, author Avalanche Hasty Search
“Susan Purvis has captured the heart of a personal journey that we all take to find our own truth. From the high Himalaya to the wilds of Montana, Sue embraced a life of service while searching for her true path. And in the loyalty and purpose of an avalanche rescue dog, she found clarity. Go Find is a gem!” —Jennifer Lowe-Anker, author of Forget Me Not: A Memoir
Susan Purvis, owner of Crested Butte Outdoors International, has taught wilderness medicine to everyone from the Secret Service to Sherpa guides in Nepal. Purvis and her search-and-rescue dog, Tasha, whom she trained to save lives on the most avalanche-prone slopes in Colorado, launched dozens of rescue missions and received Congressional Recognition for their role in avalanche search and rescue. Purvis’ work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, the BBC, and on Discovery. She lives in Whitefish, Montana. Go Find is her first book.
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